Published in the August 3, 2017 edition.


NORTH READING – It was do-or-die for the North Reading A’s baseball team last Thursday night at North Reading High as they took on the Saugus Wings in the final game of the regular season. The winner of this game would qualify for the North Shore Baseball League playoffs while the loser would be out.

Unfortunately, the A’s came up just short as they fell, 13-11, to end the year at 8-16 and came in ninth place in the 11-team league. The Wings, an expansion team this year, improved to 9-15.

“Our pitcher struggled finding the strike zone,” explained A’s player-manager Joe Dardeno. “Seven of their batters either walks or were hit by a pitch.”

Things started well as Mike Bailey had a long two-run homer to right-center in the bottom of the first to give the A’s a 2-0 lead.

Saugus scored three times in the second but the A’s tied it on a passed ball in the bottom of the second.

In the third, the Wings broke the game open with eight runs to make it 11-3.

“They had only two hits that inning,” pointed out Dardeno.

The A’s climbed back in the game in the bottom of the third plating five runs to cut the lead to three. Xavier Nunez had an RBI double while Matt Divecchia drew a walk with the bases loaded for an RBI.

Saugus then scored a pair of unearned runs in the fourth to make it 13-8.

The A’s, who had five total hits, then scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth as Rich Giannattasio had a two-run single while Rob Lagasse added an RBI single.

However, that was the final runs the A’s would score as the Wings were able to hold on.

Arik Fenstermacer was the losing pitcher as he lasted just two innings. He gave up seven runs (six earned), three hits, three walks, and one hit by pitch. He struck out two as he finished 1-2 on the hill this summer.

On July 26th, the A’s beat the Newburyport NorEasters, 8-4, at home. Bob Sullivan was the winning pitcher going the first two innings. He gave up one run, one walk, one hit and did not record a strikeout.

“He was coming off an injury so we didn’t want to push him too much,” said Dardeno, about why Sullivan (1-0) only pitched into the third before being pulled.

The A’s offense had 13 hits led by Bailey who went 3 for 4 with three RBI including a solo homer. Giannattasio was 2 for 2 with two runs scored. Lagasse and Kevin Rooney were both 2 for 3. Lagasse scored one run while Rooney knocked in two.

John Sirois had a homer as well while Dardneo chipped in an RBI single.

North Reading, who went 3-0 against Newburyport this summer, scored one run in the first and four more in the third. They plated two in the fourth and one more in the bottom of the sixth.

“We started hitting the ball well in that third inning,” recalled Dardeno.

Newburyport scored once in the second and three more times in the top of the sixth for their four runs.

Divecchia, the fourth A’s pitcher, was able to record his first save.

This season is the first time in four years the A’s did not qualify for the playoffs.